Brazilians rally against corruption

Protesters wearing clown noses whistle and shout during the march against corruption in Brasilia, Brazil, 7 September 2011 The protesters say corrupt politicians are the real clowns

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Thousands of people have joined anti-corruption demonstrations in Brazil, as the country marks its Independence Day.

Wearing face paint and clown noses, protesters joined crowds watching the traditional military parade in the capital, Brasilia.

Similar protests were held in other cities across Brazil.

Three government ministers have left office amid corruption allegations since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January.

Dozens of government officials have also lost their jobs or been arrested, and several other ministers have been accused of corruption, though all deny wrongdoing.

Some of the protesters chanted slogans in support of President Rousseff, who has promised a zero-tolerance approach to corruption.

Others gathered outside government ministries and the Congress with buckets and mops in a symbolic gesture to wash away corruption.

'Pandemic'

The demonstration in Brasilia - dubbed the March Against Corruption - had no political party affiliation.

Many of the protesters were students, who organised the demonstration using social networking websites.

Start Quote

We all have a duty to combat corruption and the president supports this”

End Quote Eduardo Cardoso Justice Minister

The protest was backed by Brazil's College of Lawyers, the Brazilian Press Association, and the National Bishops' Conference.

"Corruption in our country is a pandemic which threatens the credibility of institutions and the entire democratic system," the three organisations said in a joint statement.

Justice Minister Eduardo Cardoso also voiced support.

"We all have a duty to combat corruption and the president supports this," he said.

"I think it is a legitimate demonstration and an opportunity for everyone to fulfil their role as citizens."

Multiple scandals

President Rousseff's chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, resigned in June after media reports questioned his rapid accumulation of wealth.

President Rousseff waves to the crowds from her car during Independence Day celebrations President Rousseff's drive against corruption has strained her governing coalition

Since then, the ministers of agriculture and transport have resigned after corruption allegations surfaced, though like Mr Palocci, all deny wrongdoing.

A fourth minister, Nelson Jobim at defence, also departed, after making disparaging remarks to the media about colleagues.

President Rousseff has won widespread praise for her firm reaction to the successive corruption scandals.

But her determination to clean up her administration had put severe strain on her governing coalition, which is made up of more than a dozen parties.

Some Brazilian political parties have traditionally given their support to the government in return for official jobs for their members and for money - either for personal gain or for party funding.

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